Speech by Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Mr G Nkwinti at the Friday Mavuso Lecture, University of Cape Town
29 Oct 2010
Topic: The role of higher education institutions and organisations of people with disabilities in rural development with a view to promoting their participation and success
Disabled People South Africa
University of Cape Town staff
Representatives from Organisations that support persons with disabilities
Ladies and gentlemen
It is indeed a great honour for me to deliver the second Friday Mavuso Lecture. The new democratic government adopted an all-inclusive Constitution which draws its humanitarian principles from international best practice, democratic societies and the United Nations conventions and protocols.
Friday Mavuso was a founder member of Disabled People South Africa (DPSA), a disability activist and a champion of disability rights in South Africa. He created a platform in Soweto for people with disabilities disabled people to organise themselves, raise awareness and advocate for their rights. He did this with courage and determination. For this, the plight of people with disabilities received greater attention. We are forever indebted to him.
The operation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an important international development that has implications for our country since we signed and ratified both the Convention and its optional protocol. We are acutely aware of our collective contributions towards the adoption of the convention and are therefore expected to lead in a manner that is consistent with the provisions of the convention.
It is important for me to mention that some work has been accomplished in recognition of persons with disabilities. But, much more remains to be done. My department, like all institutions in our society, has a moral and political commitment towards creating opportunities for the total integration of persons with disabilities in all programmes, where such is practically possible.
Programme director, allow me to briefly explain the concept of rural development, from the perspective of the department. A significant majority of South African citizens have their lives tied to rural life, where they feel free to practise their customs and culture in a conducive environment of an agrarian economy. With the advent of democracy in 1994, the country had to undertake a process of post colonial reconstruction and development, where attention had to be given to the improvement of the quality of life of all our citizens, including people living in rural areas.
Rurality denotes a way of life and a state of mind; a culture which revolves around land, livestock cropping and community. Rural areas include all traditional communal areas, farmland, certain peri-urban areas and informal settlements and small rural towns where people have a number of possibilities to live from the land. Rural development is about enabling rural people to take control of their destiny, thereby dealing effectively with rural poverty through the optimal use and management of natural resources.
It is a participatory process through which rural people learn over time, through their own experiences and initiatives, how to adapt their indigenous knowledge to their changing world. In terms of the current South African challenge, it is a post-colonial reconstruction and development programme whose heart is socio-economic and cultural transformation. It matters most where the most humble and most vulnerable reside, the rural areas and communities. Rural development should result in fundamental change in the country-side; including changes in attitude, ownership patterns and systems and participation on the part of rural communities themselves.
During 2009, the South African government conceptualised the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP). A department called “Rural Development and Land Reform” was established and given the mandate to drive the programme.
The key thrust of the CRDP framework is an integrated programme of rural development, land reform and agrarian change, whose strategic focus is social cohesion and development. At a practical level, rural development focuses on improving economic, cultural and social infrastructure, public amenities and facilities and ICT infrastructure.
In achieving the above, the CRDP is premised on three phases: Phase I which could be regarded as an incubator or nursery stage of the programme - meeting basic human needs as driver; Phase II the enterprise development stage - relatively large-scale requisite infrastructure development as driver; and, Phase III the stage of the emergence of rural industrial and credit financial sectors - driven by small, micro and medium enterprises and village markets.
The department has implemented the CRDP in 21 sites throughout South Africa and aims to roll this out to 160 sites by 2014. Lessons learnt from these CRDP sites, indicate that the challenges in rural areas include under utilisation and/or unsustainable use of natural resources; poor or lack of access to socio-economic and cultural infrastructure and services, public amenities and facilities, and government services, lack of access to clean water or lack of water resources for both household and agricultural development; low literacy, skills levels and migratory labour practices; decay of the social fabric and, unexploited opportunities in agriculture, tourism, mining and manufacturing.
Of importance is that in each area where the CRDP is being implemented, a new vibrancy has been created around working together, involving communities, the three spheres of government and the private sector. This has enabled communities to mobilise resources from all sectors of government to enhance delivery. An inclusive CRDP stakeholder participation model has been developed in the form of a Council of Stakeholders, functioning as a partner in planning, implementation and monitoring. Through this inclusive body, communities themselves have become central to their own development.
We have, through the work undertaken at the CRDP sites, and in conjunction with fellow departments at National, Provincial and Local Government, erected infrastructure such as housing, water, sanitation, pack-sheds, community halls, multi-purpose centres, fencing, ECD centres, e-raps, satellite police stations, renovated schools and clinics and so on.
From the CRDP entry point of mobilising and organizing rural people, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform initiated a new youth skills development and employment programme, “National Rural Youth Service Corps” (NARYSEC).
The main goal is to develop a cadre of young community paraprofessionals and artisans who will take responsibility for the development of their own communities. Four young people, of whom must be a person with a disability, are enlisted into the Programme from each of the 2 872 rural wards. At least 50% of these must be women. The contractual period, including the training period is 24 months. This process will lead to the employment and skilling of almost 12 000 youths, of which almost 3 000 should be youth with disabilities.
A statistical analysis from the NARYSEC programme, concluded that up to now, out of the envisaged 3 000, only 123 young persons with disabilities have been enlisted after the conclusion of the recruitment and selection process in seven provinces. Looking at the implication of the low-intake of youth with disabilities, pertinent questions arise. Is the environment within rural villages, where young persons with disabilities reside, conducive to enabling them to function effectively in providing a service at the end of their training? Is the recruitment and selection process which was followed appropriate to attract persons with disabilities? Did we manage to penetrate the deep rural villages? I am raising these questions because they are central to the issue of access to public services, inclusion, rights to equality, dignity and freedom. We need to create good working relations and collaboration with all relevant stakeholders in order to overcome these challenges.
Another observation has been that most of the young persons who applied and were appointed are persons with physical disabilities such as persons using crutches, persons who have visual disabilities (low vision), hearing disabilities (limited hearing). Further attention should be given to attract an equal spread of the different types of disabilities.
The department has entered into strategic partnerships with the Departments of Higher Education and Training and Defence and Military Veterans to advance the objects of the Narysec. Training will entail basic military training and artisanal skills through Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges.
On Friday, 8 October 2010, I visited a workshop for the blind in Garankuwa (outside Pretoria) following an invitation from the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB), in conjunction with the Department of Public Works. The visit was partly for me to assess the various development projects people with disabilities are undertaking in the area and determine how the department could reach out and assist.
I was highly impressed, and deeply humbled, by what the visually impaired were doing: amongst other things, knitting school jerseys, making baskets, mats and wire fencing, designing furniture, dressing tables, dining room suites, outdoor chairs and walking sticks, sewing garments and running their own administration! The workshop sells its products at exhibitions and directly to the public. Guess what they are asking for: Respect and a little bit of support. Tell that to supposedly abled people like myself! Isn’t that humbling?
I told them that I would tell those beneficiaries without disabilities who like complaining that they should rethink the notion of disability. I have also consulted my department to ascertain whether the visually impaired could not be incorporated into one of the departments' programmes supporting youth and persons with disabilities. I have even volunteered to be the centre’s ambassador.
We need to establish a partnership with organisations that support persons with disabilities, and other relevant stakeholders, which would contribute to improving the participation of disabled persons in all aspects of life, particularly rural development. I wish to encourage the sector of persons with disability to work with us. Let us work together and build a future that will benefit all our people, especially in rural areas, irrespective of their physical disposition.
I thank you.
Source: Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
Issued by: Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
29 Oct 2010
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